Bid News Blog

This news site presents breaking news on the CMS competitive bidding programs. It is interactive and readers are encouraged to post stories in their names or anonymously
May 26, 2011

CRE Applauds White House Announcement of Plan for “A Simpler, Smarter Regulatory System” – Asks for Redress of Job-Killing CMS Program

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness welcomes the Obama Administration’s plan “to create a 21st-century regulatory system” including “an unprecedented government-wide review to eliminate tens of millions of hours in annual red-tape, and billions of dollars in regulatory costs…”  CRE will further congratulate the Administration when the plan yields tangible success.

As Jim Tozzi of CRE’s Board of Advisor’s recently noted at gathering honoring the 30th anniversary of the White House’s office for regulatory review, OIRA-the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, “Washington is littered with Executive Orders that never got off the ground.”  Unfortunately, the plan components are top down, not bottom up. There is little input from stakeholders other than perfunctory requests for comments.

May 25, 2011

Bill: Carve out community pharmacies

From: HME News

WASHINGTON – Community pharmacies are making another play at keeping themselves out of the competitive bidding program.
On May 23, Reps. Aaron Shock, R-Ill. and Peter Welch, D-Vt., introduced the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, which seeks to exempt community pharmacies with 10 or fewer locations from having to competitively bid for diabetes testing supplies.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) lauded the bill, saying that requiring pharmacies to bid on diabetes supplies, which often comprise less than 10% of their businesses, would be overly burdensome. The association also says it would threaten beneficiary access.
“The in-person counseling provided by pharmacists is critical to helping many patients properly use glucose monitors,” stated Doug Hoey, NCPA executive vice president and CEO, in a release. “Without face-to-face counseling, seniors may incorrectly interpret glucose readings, triggering either a false alarm or a mistaken sense of security.”
Currently, the competitive bidding program applies only to diabetes supplies obtained through mail order, but CMS has indicated that it may expand the program to include supplies obtained at retail locations.
A similar bill introduced last year collected 24 co-sponsors.

ACOs Spell ‘Opportunity’ for HMEs

From: Home Care Magazine

WATERLOO, Iowa — Savvy home medical equipment providers can be the “go to” companies in the emerging world of 21st century health care, but they need to be quick to align themselves with newly forming Accountable Care Organizations, an industry analyst said.

“You want to establish that relationship with the ACO before someone else does,” advised Alan Morris, director of alternate care programs for Waterloo, Iowa-based VGM.

The reason? ACOs will soon be the new referral sources in town and if you aren’t aligned with one or more, you could find yourself shut out of the Medicare business.

May 9, 2011

A look at competitive bidding after four months — ‘We’re all working harder to make near the same as last year’

From: HME News

By Elizabeth Deprey Associate Editor

WASHINGTON – When CMS implemented competitive bidding four months ago, some HME providers expected to see an upswing in business. For most, though, that hasn’t been the case.
Provider Georgie Blackburn won two contracts in the Pittsburgh CBA for enteral nutrition and standard power wheelchairs. She says, overall, that referral-driven revenues are down 4.5% for the year
“For enteral nutrition, we’ve been able to capitalize and secure a larger volume of business at skilled nursing homes,” said Blackburn, vice president of government relations and legislative affairs for Blackburns. “However, that doesn’t equate to profitability.”
For standard power wheelchairs, Blackburn has seen no increase in business whatsoever.
Provider Carl Wallman won two contracts in the Miami CBA for oxygen and respiratory devices. He says he has yet to receive a call for oxygen as a result of winning the contract.
“If anything, we’ve seen a reduction in referrals,” said Wallman, president of Galaxy Medical.
As far as respiratory devices go, Wallman’s “doing just about the same as we used to do.”
Provider Rick Perrotta won a contract in the Charlotte CBA for standard power wheelchairs. He says he hasn’t seen an increase in business for wheelchairs, but he has for repairs. He says he’s doing about 15 more repairs per month.
Despite that increase, Perrotta, president of Network Medical Supply, says the lower competitive bidding rates require that he do at least twice as many new sales and repairs to make the same amount as he did before the program was implemented. 
“I don’t know any mobility provider that’s going to make more money this year than last,” he said. “We’re all working harder to hopefully try to make somewhere near the same as last year.”
One provider who has seen a significant increase in business: Chris Rice. His company, Diamond Respiratory Care, won contracts for all but complex rehab (Group 2) in the Riverside CBA, and has seen business double across the board.
“We’ve gotten significantly busier since the program started,” said Rice, director of marketing. “It’s an increase in marketing and a decrease in competitors. Also, referral sources tend to want to make one phone call, and, thankfully, we’re still able to do that.”
May 4, 2011

There Is No Breathing Easy with Competitive Bidding

From: Home Care Magazine

MIAMI — Even as CMS maintains it hasn’t received many complaints about competitive bidding — 43 out of 54,000 calls, agency officials said at last month’s Program Advisory and Oversight Committee meeting — problems continue to surface. Reported by the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers of America, here’s one from a North Miami, Fla., woman who just wanted to breathe.

Under the program, Wanda Revercomb had such problems getting oxygen service that she took her story to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Revercomb, an oxygen patient from North Miami, told a Nelson aide April 26 that two months ago, she was feeling short of breath and noticed her oxygen concentrator was low on oxygen. She called her provider.